No matter whether your horse is for recreational or commercial use, it must be in good health for optimum performance. Your attention and care towards your horse are certainly reflected by its health and well-being. Addressing horse health is not limited to vaccination and deworming, but a comprehensive plan for handling any sudden disease outbreak and other health issues. Coming up with a good preventive care program may save you a good amount of time and money in the long run.
The popularity of horse riding as a sport or pastime is increasing day by day, indicating more horses are being imported in most of the countries in Europe. This increasing number is posing threats to both new and existing horses. The threats we are mostly concerned with are infectious diseases. However, there are non-infectious diseases as well as malnutrition, genetic diseases, autoimmune diseases, etc. In this article, we will consider general principles for preventing common equine diseases.
How diseases spread
There is no question of spreading non-infectious diseases. However, if the disease is caused by an infectious agent, there is a certain risk of catching a disease from living or non-living subjects contaminated with the agent. Various modes of disease transmission include-
- Direct contact between same species (i.e. horses).
- Direct contact with other animals like pets, humans, wild animals.
- Insect bites. Some insects are prone to carry certain infectious agents.
- Droplet infection. Coughing, sneezing, may release water droplets containing infectious agents which if inhaled by other horses, can cause the disease.
- Through excreta of infected animals.
- Contaminated water, food, or bedding.
- Vertical transmission. Infected mother horse can transmit the disease to its baby during pregnancy through the placenta, or after delivery via milk.
So, why should we be interested in preventing the spread of disease? The simple answer is to get optimum performance and prolong the active lifespan of the horses. In addition, preventing disease means reducing your chance to contribute to an epidemic of a serious disease. Certain equine diseases can be transmitted to humans such as ringworm, typhoid. By taking preventive measures we can minimize the risks of those infections as well. Last but not the least, the cost related to the treatment of an illness certainly outweighs costs related to preventive measures.
Basic principles of horse disease prevention
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way of preventing illness. Most of the horses will encounter some sort of common disease at some point in their life. But, it does not mean that we will sit reluctantly and leave everything on luck. A fruitful prevention program will include being aware of common diseases, maintaining good hygiene, conducting routine health check-up, timely vaccination, keeping horses away from others with unknown health status, isolating ill horses, prompt treatment, and so on. Some key elements of a comprehensive prevention program are discussed here.
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